The Djinn of Al-Qadim

Campaign Session Report #19

By MARK WILSON

GM: Me
Setting: Al-Qadim (aka the continent of Zakhara)
System: D&D 5e
Level: 7

Players:
Dalia, the Mother – Rune Knight Fighter
Nezima, the Aunt – Hexblade Warlock
Atareeza (Atar), the Daughter – Divine Soul Sorcerer
Telchak, the Son – Soulknife Rogue

For full setting, campaign and character notes, please start from the beginning of the session report series.

Session #19

When we left off, the party had finished their meeting with the Corsair council in the makeshift city of Hawa, and was hoping to meet with Jayani, the lone council member who seemed to side with their cause. The others were against them, either from suspected mind control by a watery entity (Hans Toot, controlled by…something), and Leela al-Hiyali, who simply seemed to dismiss them, though without explicit suspicion of mind control.

Toes & Turtles

A guard whose mind Atar had read in the council meeting approaches them, begging her to heal the growth on his foot. She had loudly stated that she could heal almost anything, in an attempt to convince him not to shoot her and her family, after she telepathically found out about the foot growth.

Telchak and Atar perform surgery and it goes surprisingly well, all considered. The growth is removed (Telchak keeps it) and he thanks them profusely, giving them a bit of coin.

They then proceed to make a loud show of looking for Jayani, whose network finds them and agrees that the two sides should meet. Jayani’s assistant – a boring guy named Mark – escorts them, and at the group’s prompting stops by her favorite food shop (according to Mark) to pick up some spiced shrimp bites for her.

Jayani is in a well-appointed (for Hawa, at least) home, and they talk over drinks and appetizer-style food. She suspects treachery among the council, who should see the threat posed by the djinn to their way of life. The party reveals what they know of council member Hans Toot being mind-controlled, and this is news to her. Jayani’s suspicions were with Leela, the elf, whose dealings suggested other loyalties outside the corsairs.

She cuts to her intent after this, though. Her “flagship” was taken over by a dark entity, and without it she’s far less powerful among the Corsair lords than she might otherwise be. She sees the djinn as an existential threat to their way of life, and wants to end the threat. With her ship back, she’ll be able to aid the group against Qudra, or at least keep the other Corsairs busy enough so that the northern cities can fight Qudra’s forces in a unified front. Her crew can’t (or won’t) do the deed, so she asks the party for assistance.

Some prodding reveals that the ship isn’t just a ship. It’s a massive dragon turtle that bonded with Jayani and allows her and some crew to ride it. The turtle is large enough to house a small village atop it. A throne in a room built into the shell of the creature allows her to commune with it.

The dark entity is not fully known to Jayani, but the party gather that it is undead of some kind, and quite powerful. Out of character, they realize with some trepidation that it’s a mummy lord.

Wanting the assistance of this dragon turtle, they agree to help.

The Journey at Sea

The following day, Jayani escorts them on a regular ship through the region, in search of the dragon turtle. As a massive creature, it’s hard to miss, and her network of informants is able to point her in the right direction, though it takes them several days to locate it. Periodically, they make stops at small inlets with huts and such built into them…way stations for the Corsairs, and known only to the Corsairs, as they sail the region.

Meanwhile, Atar befriends some of the crew and discovers Firethorn Shots, an alcoholic shot distilled from the red flowers that float in the waters surrounding the Corsair islands. She downs two successfully, though with a bit of piercing and fire damage. The latter also paralyzes her for about 10 minutes, and the crew cheer and laugh at her accomplishment. Dalia walks in on this and if she doesn’t approve, she also doesn’t directly disapprove of it in the moment.

Nezima meanwhile chats with Jayani, hitting it off with her. Jayani is clear about her ultimately selfish intentions in all of this, but claims that the difference between her and Botswani (leader of Umara) and others is that they’re in it for themselves as well, but she’s at least honest about it. Nezima respects this, and swaps a few stories to give Jayani more context on their quest against the djinn.

Telchak also spots an elderly lady with massive, Popeye-style arms rowing a rowboat extremely fast. Dalia investigates on her dolphin and the lady is furiously looking for her husband, aboard a floating tavern called “The Sea Dog’s Wanderlust.” She claims he left her at sea, and he’s got what’s coming to him. She gives Dalia a coin to magically contact her if Dalia ever sees the floating tavern, then begins rowing away again, claiming to be in no danger. Dalia assumes she’s a hag of some sort and lets the matter go.

Boarding the Dragon Turtle

After several days, they find the turtle “docked” off the coast of The Camel’s Hump, a largely uninhabited island with a long-dormant volcano on it. They drop anchor around a bend in the island to avoid detection.

Jayani confirms that the turtle won’t be friendly to them, having turned on them after the dark entity ambushed them.

Jayani offers to accompany them, but the party go alone in a rowboat, pulled by Dalia’s dolphin, and through a combination of grappling hooks, magic and climbing checks, vault onto the shell of the thing.

Ramshackle structures are built into its shell, and the group begins investigating them. Atar approaches one and sneakily opens the door to it…

…which immediately falls off its hinges and falls, crashing on the ground. This awakens two turned undead, which have some qualities of mummies despite seeming to be former members of Jayani’s crew who fell when the turtle was taken. They’re easily enough dispatched, but the fight seems to awaken the mummy lord, who explodes into being from within one of the structures, destroying it in the process. He appears as a whirling tornado of sand and cloth, before manifesting into humanoid form. He glares at Telchak, the closest, and screams. Two screams from nearby seem to respond to its cry.

Against the Mummy Lord

The mummy lord paralyzes half the party and vomits a necrotic energy blast at Atar, who is knocked unconscious after taking some damage earlier. But not before she got off a Fireball and lesser fire spell, both of which seem extremely effective against the mummy lord.

The dragon turtle awakens at the fighting and lurches to the side. Telchak fails to grab onto something and tumbles off the edge. His unconscious sister follows him, as does one regular mummy. Meanwhile, another mummy converges on Dalia and Nezima.

Recovering from this, Atar casts Fly and returns, while Telchak scampers up the side of the turtle, followed by the now-soggy mummy who fell off as well.

Atar seems to put an end to the mummy lord as the others engage the other mummies, but they notice that its remains begin to swirl and sink into the turtle’s shell below, where they know a room is contained…

Dungeon Master’s Notes

Among a lot of homebrew elements, I do try to pull canonical elements from Zakharan lore. Here, it was the character of Jayani. While I fashioned the Corsair leaders into a council, she was listed as “The Pirate King” back in the old 2e setting books. She also canonically rides a gargantuan turtle as a ship. So as outlandish as that bit may seem, it’s one of the ideas I adapted from existing lore.

I didn’t do the greatest job explaining that they had other options in Hawa besides storming the dragon turtle. Granted, that’s probably more fun than investigating a mind-controlled dwarf and/or a haughty elf (whose loyalties haven’t been fully uncovered either), but there were several ways through the issues in this city. I think it may have seemed more railroaded, though. I’ll need to be more explicit about branching plot hooks in the future.

I’m finding my footing again in regard to prep, after falling behind for several sessions. I like reacting to player decisions, but also dislike making up too much on the spot.

Creatures Used:

  • Mummy (CR3)
  • Mummy Lord (CR15)

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